Kiri Allan pleads guilty to crash charges

Former justice minister Kiri Allan. Photo: RNZ
Former justice minister Kiri Allan. Photo: RNZ
Former justice minister Kiri Allan has been convicted for refusing to accompany police after crashing a car while over the drink-driving limit.

The disgraced former minister pleaded guilty this morning to failing to accompany a police officer, moments before her trial was set to begin.

Allan was charged with careless driving and failing to accompany a police officer after crashing into a stationary vehicle on Evans Bay Parade in Wellington last July.

She admitted careless driving but pleaded not guilty to refusing to go with a police officer on the basis law enforcement had prohibited her from speaking to a lawyer.

Her judge-alone trial for this charge was due to start this morning but defence lawyer Christopher Stevenson told Judge Brooke Gibson in the Wellington District Court things had been "resolved late in the piece".

She would pay reparations for the damage to the vehicles involved ($5296) and had low culpability for the crimes given her "fragile emotional state at the time", Stevenson said.

Judge Gibson sentenced Allan on the spot, convicting and fining her $300 for the careless driving charge and convicting and discharging her for the failing to accompany a police officer charge.

Allan was not in court, though the 'category' of offences meant the former MP does not have to attend her court hearings.

She had previously explained she pleaded not guilty to failing to accompany a police officer on the basis that she did not have access to a lawyer.

In an Instagram post, she said she had requested to speak to a lawyer immediately before and after her arrest but the police did not allow it.

The charge resulted from her unwillingness to accompany the police without the ability to speak to a lawyer, the former MP said.

"The issue here is that such a fundamental legal right sits in a grey area which several senior lawyers in NZ from both a defence and prosecution perspective have not been able to provide a unified view on."

The statement said all agreed that the law was currently uncertain.

Allan said laws should be clear and accessible to all New Zealanders, not just legal professionals.

The former East Coast MP did not seek re-election after last year's crash, going on to launch a consultancy business.

She is now campaign manager for musician Ria Hall's bid for the Tauranga mayoralty.